Links 1/5/18

Dear patient readers,

I’ve been beavering away on some longer-term digging that may or may not lead to posts. Sometimes leads are dead ends or low yield in terms of number of posts relative to time invested. So please be forgiving!

And I hope those of you in the East got through the storm OK. It was overhyped in NYC. Eight inches of snow and some wind and chilly weather after that is not a cause for freakout. How hard is it to dress sensibly and not go outdoors overmuch? If you are going to worry, worry about vulnerable groups like the homeless and stay at homes like old people who would find the bad footing and cold to be a serious problem.

In the 1980s through the early 1990s, we’d have at least one one to three day cold snap where the daily high was lower than five degrees. That is markedly worse than our forecast. But the storm surge in Boston was nasty, and some areas got fierce winds.

Cats’ New Year resolutions already broken Daily Mash

As of today, no US airlines operate the mighty Boeing 747 ars technica. I love 747s.

First grader’s somber response to a class puzzle has the Internet questioning life USA Today (JTM)

Don Pesci: New research shows Connecticut signed Bill Of Rights in 1790 The Register Citizen. UserFriendly:

Stumbled across this nugget. Apparently the House should have 1 rep for every 50k people but doesn’t because CT made a clerical error in 1790 (discovered in 2011) ​and now just needs action from the archivist of the US or a senator from CT. I wonder if a little publicity might help.

Surprise as DNA reveals new group of Native Americans: the ancient Beringians Guardian (Kevin W)

Roughly a quarter of the planet is slowly turning into a perpetual desert Grist

Oceans suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn Guardian

Brazil announces end to Amazon mega-dam building policy Momgabay (martha r)

Winter Storm Causes Major Flooding in Boston Harbor Daily Beast (furzy)

RTA provides free rides to transit centers to help people get out of the cold Fox8 (martha r)

Light quake shakes San Francisco; no immediate damage reported Reuters. EM: “I was in bed watching late-nite TV, thought it was my upstairs neighbor falling out of bed – because I think he did when the quake hit.”

Experts say software ‘patches’ may remedy security flaw Financial Times. This is such a big deal that it means a minimum 5% performance hit and up to 30% depending on the process. While it might be possible to optimize it later, that is all up in the air.

As drone demand soars, New Jersey poised to bar drunken droning Reuters (EM)

Drinking alcohol causes cancer by ‘damaging DNA’ Independent (David L)

There is a Whole Cottage Industry of Doctors Helping Parents Skip Their Kids’ Vaccines – Mother Jones. Wait till one of them gets tetaus.

China?

The US is preparing for a trade war with China – don’t be fooled by the noise South China Morning Post (George P)

North Korea

South, North Korea to talk after military drills postponed Asia Times

Waning US: Germany Must Learn To Take Responsibility Der Spiegel (resilc)

Brexit

The incredible shrinking Britain Politico (AFXH)

Brexit latest: Britain not ready for trade talks, warns our own commissioner Evening Standard

Labour members reject leadership on second Brexit vote: poll Politico. ” 78 percent of the Labour grassroots either agree or strongly agree with having a second vote — something Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out.”

Britain has made itself a Brexit straitjacket Financial Times. Familiar ground for NC readers, but this sort of thing is overdue from the British press.

TPP: Could UK really join Pacific trade group? BBC (JTM)

5 ways Germany’s coalition talks could come unstuck Politico

Syraqistan

US suspends ‘security assistance’ to Pakistan after Donald Trump calls it terrorist ‘haven‘ DW

Brussels defends Obama Iran policy against Trump attack Politico

Trump on Saudi Leadership Shake-up: “We’ve Put Our Man on Top!” Intercept (resilc)

The drug that is starving Yemen Economist (UserFriendly)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Ex-U.S. NSA contractor to plead guilty to massive theft of secret data Reuters (EM)

Brazil says it has bagged Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean for £84m The Register. Lambert: “Imperial collapse watch.”

Mapping a World From Hell: 76 Countries Are Now Involved in Washington’s War on Terror Tom Engelhardt

Trump Transition

The acting ICE director said politicians who run ‘sanctuary cities’ should be charged with crimes Business Insider. Contrast this with the Washington State AG suing Motel 6 for turning information on guests over to ICE wholesale without probable cause or a search a warrant.

Read Trump lawyer’s letter to Michael Wolff and Steve Rubin Washington Post. Wowsers, this will just increase sales.

Trump vs. Bannon The Week (Scott)

Breitbart Owners Mull Ousting Bannon Amid Trump Feud Wall Street Journal

BANNON IS OUT at Breitbart News, according to cryptic Drudge tweet… The Right News (margarita)

The Trump administration’s war on pot is an opportunity for Democrats. New Republic (resilc). I am at a loss to understand what the demon weed hysteria is about.

Trump proposes vast expansion of offshore drilling Science (Kevin W)

Ryan’s Goal To Eviscerate And Discard Medicare Is Closer Than Anyone Thinks DownWithTyranny!

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his appearance at CES because of death threats Recode. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Comey’s original Clinton memo released, cites possible violations The Hill

FBI launches new Clinton Foundation investigation The Hill

Democratic Party Obsession With Neo-Liberal Deficits Have Been Financing GOP Upward Redistribution DownWithTyranny!(UserFriendly)

Fake News

Fighting Fake News is Not the Solution New Yorker. FluffytheObeseCat:

Shockingly pearl-clutching-free article in the New Yorker. Masha Gessen makes good sense, but judging from the surrounding articles the magazine’s other contributors and editors don’t share her high regard for the public. Other than in her piece, the wailing and elegant gnashing of teeth continues apace.

The CIA’s 60-Year History of Fake News: How the Deep State Corrupted Many American Writers Truthdig

Peter Thiel Is Reportedly Exploring Launching Conservative News Outlet Bloomberg (UserFriendly). As if we are suffering from a shortage of them…

Appeals Court: Idaho’s Ag-Gag Law Aimed At Suppressing Journalism Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Vermont House Votes to Legalize Marijuana Seven Days Vermont (resilc)

NTSB hasn’t interviewed engineer in fatal Amtrak derailment south of Tacoma Seattle Times (Chris M)

Everyone has a different idea about what harassment is, study says The Verge

FDIC win against PwC could finally force auditors to look for fraud MarketWatch (resilc)

The Tax Law Hits Manhattan Home Sales Bloomberg

Dow Climbs, but Individuals Aren’t Buying It Wall Street Journal

The Banks with the Most Consumer Complaints: A Dive into CFPB’s Database Wolf Street (Dr. Kevin)

Guillotine Watch

Travis Kalanick to sell part of his Uber shares for first time Financial Times

Class Warfare

Charter Schools Are Reshaping America’s Education System for the Worse The Nation

Americans are poorer than in decades Axios (resilc)

Antidote du jour. KPF: “This gorgeous crab was hanging out in a mangrove swamp at the Oslo Road conservation area in Vero Beach Florida. It’s a high-resolution photo and the detail when you blow it up is fascinating.”

And an anti-antidote, of course from Richard Smith:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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170 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    From Don Pesci’s article about Connecticut’s ratification of constitutional amendments:

    The Civil War teaches us that the ratification votes that bind the disparate states into what Abraham Lincoln thought of as an indissoluble nation cannot be undone.

    What a great way to establish legal precedent in a ‘free’ country: by slaughtering half a million residents in an orgy of blood, while forever disenfranchising future generations from amending their sovereignty.

    Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” — Chairman Mao

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      Noticed that the article was from 2013. Any particular reason to post it today? There would be +/- 7000 members of the House if I understand correctly?

      Reply
      1. UserFriendly

        Someone commented on the Congressional Apportionment Amendment the other day and I just went down a rabbit hole. Yes, imagine how much less corrupt congress would be if they didn’t need to spend so much money trying to influence 700k people and could focus on 50k. That would be genuinely grass roots, would really help 3rd parties, and would probably make gerrymandering less of a problem. It might make the body less predictable but I think it’s a change worth trying. If it’s bad they can always do another amendment.

        Reply
        1. UserFriendly

          I also just contacted 2 reps from the MN state house to see if they would make a push to ratify it. That might bring some more publicity to it.

          Reply
    2. giantsquid

      Are you saying that the United States was a ‘free’ country in 1860? I believe that the nearly 4 million slaves in the U.S. at the time might have tended to disagree, not to mention the 20 million women who also lacked most of the ‘rights’ enjoyed by white men.

      Reply
    3. Plenue

      An ‘orgy of blood’ the South started because they saw they could no longer control the United States to extend their slave-owning empire. There are at least a couple regulars to this comment section that want me to feel bad for the slave owning south. Not gonna happen.

      Reply
      1. JBird

        From what I understand, the ruling families of the South of 1860 are still the ruling families of now. Especially in the Deep South. Rather explains how the old regime came back in power so quickly once the Federal troops were with drawn. The political power was temporarily destroyed not their leadership in society.

        Isn’t that nice?

        Reply
          1. JBird

            Good idea. Except for the part where it would have reignited the Civil War. The quid pro quo of lenient surrender terms was the complete surrender of the Southern military. The North could have and probably should have tried, and hopefully convicted, the worst like Forrest and Wade as individuals for individual crimes like the Massacre at Fort Pillow. But no more.

            The problem remains that there were officers of the Confederate who pushed to continue the war as a guerrilla war. Individuals, even whole individual small units, could have escaped as it was only the Army of Northern Virginia’s inability to escape as a single combined force from the various Union armies helming it in. If Lee had given his mere consent, never mind order, his and the other remaining armies, and smaller units, would broken up and kept fighting. Probably for years, maybe decades.

            The reason Lee and Johnston surrendered their intact armies despite their subordinates wanting differently, to Grant and Sherman who offered terms of surrender that followed Lincoln’s desires was to avoid a continuing civil war that would have been much worse than what actually happened.

            Which was not their fault. It was the fault of the Republican Party abandoning its support of Reconstruction so that the Democratic Party would hand over the President’s Office despite it probably winning it. Talk about a quid pro quo!

            Reply
            1. Adam Eran

              Worth remembering: The government also withdrew the greenbacks it issued to fight the war. The ensuing debt deflation left the South a region where debt peonage (tenant farming for goods sold on credit by the Furnishing Man…AKA “the Man”) was a commonplace.

              Reply
  2. nyc transplant to sc

    8 inches in NYC may not be a big deal but here in Charlestown, SC we had 5 inches and the city was shut down for 2 days. Snow stopped wee hours of Thursday morning but as of 5PM our International airport was still closed.

    Lack of snow plows and salt spreaders (not a Southern thing) means roads are still somewhat snow packed. Street I live on has cars buried in the stuff. Fun watching Charlestonians figure out what to do.

    Reply
    1. Sam Adams

      re: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his appearance at CES because of death threats.
      “The FCC chairman has lamented that he and his family have been mocked, attacked and threatened, in public as well as on Twitter, where Pai himself is activee.“
      Who knew mocking family was tantamount to death threats?

      Reply
        1. cyclist

          I suspect that Pai would just double down on his belief that he is doing the right thing. That seems to be the nature of people in this administration.

          Reply
        2. lyman alpha blob

          Indeed – Pai has shown tremendous contempt for and condescension toward the public he is supposed to be serving. What’s good the goose…

          Reply
      1. Fraibert

        I do not like Mr. Pai’s politics, but I’m uncomfortable with this treatment of the death threats matter, both in the OP and here. Sure, it could all be bogus, but I’m concerned that it shows a coarsening discourse that we should avoid.

        The WSJ (admittedly not the greatest source now) has reported:

        “The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, canceled an appearance at the coming consumer electronics show in Las Vegas because of death threats, according to a person familiar with the matter.” (https://www.wsj.com/articles/fcc-chairman-cancels-appearance-at-electronics-show-1515121815)

        Reply
    2. cocomaan

      Here in PA, any problems with snow removal isn’t a function of lack of snow plows. There’s enough snow plows in the state that we could have the entire highway system plus most secondary roads done in a few hours.

      The problem is “da free markut”. I see snow plow drivers racing around on snowy days, their plows up, going from one place to another. I don’t blame them, either, they own their own means of production and go to the highest payer.

      But you get the idea. Plenty of equipment, plenty of work, but somehow, the work and the worker do not get connected because we live in a bureaucratized, overly complicated system.

      Reply
      1. vlade

        “Plenty of equipment, plenty of work, but somehow, the work and the worker do not get connected because we live in a bureaucratized, overly complicated system.”

        You mean sort of like the USSR block 1950-1990s? Plenty of people, plenty of equipment (if a lot of it very obsolete), yet basics (toilet paper FGS, not to mention women’s hygienic pads..) were so hard to get that people queued overnight and even unconfirmed rumours of it being available at places could cause mini-stampedes. (and it’s not hearsay, I was in some of those queues, even if not overnight as I was too young for that).

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          We used to be able to either bring one of my married aunts or her husband from Prague on our dime to come visit us pre Velvet Revolution days, and it was essentially a hostage situation, in that if one defected, the other one @ home was in the very deepest of kimchee, so it didn’t happen.

          I remember being around 16 and my aunt was here for a few weeks, and police cars were a frightening thing to her, the sight of them on the street, as law enforcement back home was all encompassing in a way we are becoming familiar with, in the ongoing saga of the US/SU Bizarro World existence, where although 180 degrees offset from one another, destined to fail in a diametrical way. In the scheme of things, they was almost no loss of life in the Soviet Bloc going away, but here there will be blood.

          I’ll assure you that there were shortages of the most basic of items, my parents would pack many rolls of toilet paper and other sundry items to use and give to family when they visited often in the 70’s & 80’s. People would line up on rumors of food sometimes, here, have some stone soup.

          Reply
          1. Olga

            Well, it looks like we have a former-socialist-bloc-inhabitant group forming here. And one with a bit of selective memory, to boot. The shortage problem is taken out of context… yes, there were occasionally times, when some items were scarce. When they re-appeared, people tended to buy too much (aka known as panic-buying), causing actual shortages. (This Sept., after Hurricane Harvey, suddenly a rumour spread in some Texas towns that there will no gas and/or the price would go up. People started panic-buying – and sure enough, most gas stations ran out of gas. There were hour-long lines forming (have pics to prove) … this lasted about 2 wks. The panic subsided after a couple of weeks… sometimes shortages are a state of mind.)

            Reply
            1. lyman alpha blob

              You’d think that when people decry the ‘shortages’ in socialist countries, they were talking about widespread deprivation and people starving in the streets or dying for lack of care. It often turns out it was just people who had to wait in line a little bit to get what they needed. The horror….

              Better to have instant gratification, over consumption and all that that implies – like frying the entire planet.

              Reply
              1. JBird

                Any system has its problems especially when a small corrupted elite gains control as happened then and is happening now, which explains the police problem, as the system serves a small group of insiders not the nation as a whole. Which is when the state becomes a police state regardless of the supposed economic and political system of that state. Once the state is captured by, and run for the few, not only are the weaknesses of its political and economic systems, whatever they are magnified, but the state is transformed into a police state, if not an outright oligarchic dictatorship, to protect the elite.

                One of my frustrations is seeing people mistake the flaws of communism, socialism, markets, even the current neoliberal free market capitalism, as well as democracy, or even something like an oligarchy with the problem caused by corruption and the capture of political power.

                Also please for the love of God stop conflating economic systems with political systems. A democracy, oligarchy, dictatorship, kingdom, empire can all have free markets, even capitalism, or some form of socialism, maybe perhaps communism, or feudalism, or some mixture.

                Here Ends the Rant.

                Reply
  3. Altandmain

    Thinking about the recent GOP tax cuts with just 50 votes in the US Senate, the Democrats never really wanted to take real action when they had a 60 majority under Obama in 2008.

    Let’s think – the GOP could pass a massive giveaway to the rich with barely 50 people, but Obama in his first 2 years had about 60 people.

    Verdict: The Democrats could easily have locked the GOP out and then passed even more drastic legislation, like repealing the Bush tax cuts, a mandate for universal healthcare, etc.

    They chose not to because their minds aren’t on it. They are on serving the donor class.

    Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        Lee camp has done extensive reporting on the fact that the election fraud is quite significant in the US. I hardly fault the greens, I don’t believe for one minute the official election numbers.

        Take a look at the Dane county WI results. I’m sorry, the people’s republic of Madison could not have delivered Stein less than 2%.

        The Democrats in power only pay fealty to getting more money. The sort of Green new deal plans greatly disrupt their plans to be consultants or lobbyists.

        Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        I know Lambert (you still there, Lambert?) is impressed with DSA, but they’re really just a social club with no intent of gaining ballot access. Their plan is to make selective endorsements. That makes them really just another lobbying group.

        Why do “Regular plebes” stick with the Dems? Some combination of football fan mentality, pure habit, and discouragement by the rigged electoral system. Truth is, while it is rigged to keep out new players, the barriers are not that high. For example, Bernie’s movement – which it was, until he endorsed Clinton – had more than enough people and funds to get on every ballot in the country and be a serious contender, all by itself. They were enough of a danger that the Dems had to cheat to keep them out, as I predicted.

        So in reality, Bernie had no intention of overturning American politics; he could have and didn’t. And his movement then split about 4 different ways; you could see it right here on NC. That’s the problem in a nutshell.

        The level of discontent is more than enough for a “political revolution.” We jus thave to make up our minds, which I don’t see happening – yet.

        Reply
    1. vlade

      A month back I had a look at why was the GOP tax bill such a big deal. As someone living outside US, I though “surely, it can be repealed”? And then I discovered that Democrats never repeal or even change (substantially) Republica tax bills. They may oppose them, but once in practice, they loathe to touch them..

      Reply
      1. oh

        The smart folks at NC know that there’s no difference between the Rips and the Dims as far as most issues go; only on small wedge (emotional) issues. The majority of voters in the US get their “news” from the propaganda machines (TV, Radio) and in the dark. Such a sad situation and none of the politicians are held accountable for anything.

        Reply
    2. Harry

      Thats right but what are we the little people gonna do about it? I say we abuse the corrupt – lets Agit Pai them!

      Reply
    3. Procopius

      OK, can you name the dates during which the Dems had 60 Senators? Because my memory, which is not all that reliable, is that they never had 60 Senators. After Franken was finally certified by Minnesota, up until Kennedy died, they did have 58, but they had to depend on two Independents, “who caucus with the Democrats.” You are counting Weepin’ Joe Lieberman, the guy who endorsed Bush, as a Democrat? He hated the Democrats and only voted in favor of the ACA because the insurance companies back in Massachusetts ordered him to.

      Reply
      1. Altandmain

        You’re missing the point.

        Whether it is 60 or 58 isn’t the issue. For the sake of argument, let’s say it is the 58. It’s that the Democrats could have done a lot more for the people even if was “just 58”.

        The GOP passed their tax bill with just 51 votes.
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/19/us/politics/tax-bill-vote-congress.html

        Hard question – why do the Democrats need 60 votes every time to pass something progressive (which they either had or almost had), while the GOP can pass very right wing legislation with just 51 votes? The GOP just gave a big, big tax cut to the rich, stabbing the backs of Trump’s economic despair vote.

        Why does the filibuster only matter when Democrats have the majority? Why does it only matter when bills are there to benefit the common citizen?

        The Democrats, even with 58 as you insist could have gotten a lot more done. They could have easily repealed the Bush tax cuts, and then a lot more. The only reason why they did not was because they did not want to – they wanted to serve their donor class so that they could retire rich.

        Reply
        1. katiebird

          And the Dem supportors audacity of explaining to me that poor Obama is “just one guy” and the Republicans so awful for not supporting his wonderful ideas and dreams. What a load of …. grrr.

          With Obama in the White House the Dems had more power than any time since LBJ. And with Obama’s popularity in his honeymoon months very likely more. They could have done anything … anything at all.

          I would say it was a total waste but we now know for sure a lot more about the Dem. Party and leaders than we ever did. Cold Comfort.

          Reply
  4. Meher Baba Fan

    I’ve seen Echidnas in the wild and had one in my backyard permanently. They have the cutest little snout and face!! And when trying to approach they run away at surprising speed, find some scrub or growth to hide under, dig into the ground , crouch down, and manipulate their spikes so they point out in all directions. But they really are the cutest animal. Seriously.
    Check out the platypus for unusual!

    Reply
    1. Meher Baba Fan

      ps the Echidna eats ants and roots around in the dirt with its snout looking for them. Not certain but I believe the ants are sucked up like a vacuum cleaner. It is such a delicate and beautiful creature to behold

      Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    Re FCC Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his appearance at CES because of death threats

    Now there is a man that could potentially spend the rest of his life with his chin on his shoulder!

    Reply
  6. Kevin

    I strongly object to today’s second anti-antidote photo – if you’re going to post pictures of me crawling out of bed in the morning at least have the decency to ask my permission first!

    Reply
  7. Darius

    Demon weed hysteria is about using it as a weapon to put darker and poorer people in jail. Then it was like waving a red flag to a bull when the hippies promoted it as rejecting conventional morality.

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      Correct. All about keeping minorities and the poor down.

      Plus, for Trump, it’s about overturning everything Obama did in his usual fit of spite.

      Duly noted: Republicans are all “States Rights” until they’re not. Hypocrites.

      Reply
    2. Goyo Marquez

      It’d be interesting to know how much of the police/judicial system/prison budget is dedicated to the marijuana part of the war on drugs, I’m assuming it must be the substantial part.

      Happened to be sitting with a local DEA agent/supervisor at a High School career day a while back, and asked what he thought of the legalization of marijuana, I assuming it was just a marginal part of the war on drugs. He wondered how the people in Mexico, who’d just sacrificed a hundred thousand lives to the fight against marijuana trafficking would feel.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Weed is legal in Mexico, sometimes…per Wikipedia:

        Cannabis in Mexico has been illegal since 1920, but personal possession of small amounts was decriminalized in 2009.

        The big money, for Californians interested in big money, is China.

        It’s currently illegal there, but it can be fixed with one or two Marijuana Wars.

        “No, we’re not forcing opium on you this time.”

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        You know, I sometimes wonder whatever happened to enforcement of the ban on cocaine, the rich man’s choice. You virtually never see reports of anybody being prosecuted for it. Certainly never see any reports of celebrities being prosecuted for it. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just alcohol Britney Speers was abusing. I’ll bet running a vacuum around Clint Eastwood’s house could collect enough to prosecute. And Jamie Dimon …

        Reply
    3. Elizabeth Burton

      I am at a loss to understand what the demon weed hysteria is about.

      Consider this, with Medicare Part D in mind…

      Sessions repeals the last administrations laissez-faire rule regarding state legalization. DEA raids become commonplace to the point where the states throw up their hands and surrender. Then, in yet another 180-degree turn, Sessions suddenly encourages that it be legalized on the federal level to be administered by Big Pharma.

      The snag in such a plan is simply that, with neither party prepared to increase taxes on corporations or the rich, those states that have legalized have acquired a major new revenue stream that keeps them reasonably afloat without annoying their employers. They are not going to give that up without (a) a fight or (b) a guaranteed way of replacing that money. Hence the pushback already from Republicans.

      Let us not forget at any time that whenever the GOP and its minions do anything, it is always about the money.

      Reply
  8. vlade

    The by-the-party poll (re Labour members supports 2nd Brexit referendum). I believe that the Labour is playing with fire.

    They are all up revved up that instead of electoral wipe-out of Labour, Tories lost their majority, but at the same time ignore the polls which have consisntently said that a large part of the voters that newly switched to Labour did so as a protest vote to Brexit (because it would have been pointless in the FPP system to switch to LibDems), and can as easily decamp to LD or not-vote-at-all.

    Yet the Labour leadership persistently ignores this.

    I assume that they hope that after a disastrous Brexit all the blame will go to Tories, and no-one will remmeber Labours support for it (like idiotic triggering of A50 w/o a “and what then” discussion beforehand). I suspect they will find that LD, and especially SNP in Scotland would be very happy to drag Labour’s complicity in bungled Brexit out.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I agree with you very much on this. I understand both Corbyns natural Euroscepticism and the political reason why they chose to fudge Brexit, but I think that in the long term they are making a huge mistake in not making the Tories ‘own’ Brexit. There are two big political dangers for them that I see :

      1. They are leaving the door open for either a resurgence of the LibDems (maybe under a more left wing leadership), or a new centrist third party.
      2. Even if Brexit is a disaster, they will be painted with the same brush as the Tories, and the next election becomes one of ‘who is most competent to pick up the pieces’. The Tories, under a new leadership, might well win on that basis.

      They need to make the Tories own Brexit 100%. They are not doing that so far.

      Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          They are reduced, but they’ve been this low in the past and come back. They have a solid core vote which always gives them the possibility of coming back.

          But the threat to Labour is not the Lib Dems winning lots of seats. Its becoming strong enough (as it was in the 1980’s) to prevent Labour winning many middle class urban seats by taking the economically centrist socially liberal vote. This is a very significant swing vote in many urban constituencies (as both Blair and Cameron realised).

          Reply
      1. giantsquid

        According to the latest YouGov poll:

        “In a recent poll we asked Britons which of four different routes they would prefer the Brexit process take. Four in ten (40%) wanted to continue with Brexit on current negotiating terms, whilst 12% wanted Britain to seek a “softer” Brexit – meaning a “go ahead” majority of 52%.

        Just 18% wanted a second referendum and a further 14% wanted Brexit abandoned completely, a total of 32% for an “attempt to reverse” Brexit. The remaining 16% said they didn’t know.”

        https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/10/27/there-has-been-shift-against-brexit-public-still-t/

        I don’t see how Corbyn gains anything by changing course at the moment. (Of course, I do think that Brexit has been and will continue to be a disaster, but it seems to me that, overall, Labour would lose votes by embracing a second referendum).

        btw, the British press seems divided as to whether Corbyn has ruled out a 2nd referendum. He has stated that Labour will “not advocate” for a 2nd referendum, allowing himself the barest of wiggle room.

        Reply
    2. Shelly

      Thinking about all the labour members I know, none of them want a second referendum. The general feeling (labour & tory voters) is that these polls are made up to push their funders agenda.

      Also, there is a very strong belief atm that the establishment is going on about brexit (which rightly or wrongly is considered relatively unimportant) to pull attention away from the crisis in the nhs.

      Reply
    3. Ed

      As David Lindsay pointed out, a large amount of Labour policies would be impossible to implement if Britain remained in the EU. No Tory policy would be impossible to implement if Britain remained in the EU, except for the policy to leave the EU itself.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        EU, that stinks!

        When the first EU demand is a gazillion billion Euros, there is kettle which to be negotiated.

        1. How much whipping will be applied?
        2. And we have to pay for the whips?

        Reply
  9. cocomaan

    Does anyone else think that this Bannon/Trump feud is entirely orchestrated? I believe absolutely nothing from Bannon, he’s just as if not more slippery than Roger Stone.

    Reply
    1. G

      No, I think its genuine. I think Bannon has been frustrated by Trump, since his attempts to implement his nationalist policies have been mostly foiled over the last year. I think he has clashed a lot with Trump’s other advisors and family members, who I think these attacks are really directed at.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        But what happens when you back a narcissist’s narcissist into a corner with widespread ridicule aimed his way that finally pierces through his veil of inadequacy writ large?

        The usual way our Chief Executives try to divert since the turn of the century, is either an announcement to go to the Moon or Mars, or declare war somewhere, and the doofus already announced we’re going to the Moon, so only Mars is left, the bringer of War

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmk5frp6-3Q

        Reply
  10. Jim Haygood

    With the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.1% in this morning’s report, its current value remains 5.9% below its own 12-month moving average (expressed decimally as 0.941 on the chart).

    http://ibb.co/fgocHG

    When the value exceeds 1.00 as it did in Jan 2001 and July 2007, a recession warning is given. Both these prior warnings were timely, coming 2 and 5 months respectively before the official NBER recession dates of Mar 2001 and Dec 2007.

    Today’s chart suggests that the next recession is at least months, and perhaps years, away.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Thank you Jim, however, please remember that the numbers are claimed by government, but not verified by anyone but the government. Those folks that actually work with the information provided by the government point to different results using mathematics and figures that are usually ignored by the government bodies to enable a report full of the good news. As an example, why do those that can’t find work go on a separate ledger? Why is that ‘those not in the workforce’ is approaching parity with the employed? These questions are justified, No?

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Certainly. Today’s low unemployment rate sends a different message than a labor participation rate which has slid dismally for most of this century.

        However, the indicator’s construction as a moving average means that it can still derive the recent trend from values that are off (too low), as long as they’re off in a consistent way.

        Bond king Jeffrey Gundlach (who manages $109 billion) developed this indicator because it’s very timely (less than one month lag from data collection to publication) and is based on a large sample (60,000 households).

        While 4.1% unemployment should not be taken literally as numerically accurate, if its trend can give advance warning of a recession as it did in 2001 and 2007, then it’s useful even if skewed.

        Reply
      2. Ed

        I stopped paying attention to the economic figures put out by the government and the media about the same time I sopped paying attention to their claims about national security threats.

        Reply
    2. edmondo

      If “the market” hates uncertainty then please, someone, explain to me why the Dow is shooting way past 25000. We have an uncertified lunatic sitting in the Oval Office. (Look, I understand from Bush 2 that it doesn’t take an Einstein to be president, but the Trumpster is in a different category than even Bush the Second.)

      At what point does ‘the market” realize that it is way over its skis? I think 25000 would be an adequate response if there was a President Pence cause we are going back to the Gilded Age where we could reopen those coal mines with 12 year olds, but putting your entire financial well being in Caligula’s hands might not exactly be prudent.

      Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Our catiphate left more severed heads on the back patio than usual, and not surprising, as their new years resolution was to be more resolute in the GWOT. (gopher war on trees)

      Reply
    2. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      January 5, 2018 at 9:04 am

      it isn’t that they don’t know – its that they don’t care. And in the scheme of things, why should a Christmas tree be upright instead of horizontal? – why should an ape’s sensibilities prevail over a feline’s?

      Reply
        1. 3.14e-9

          And why is that, Ambrit? Just think of how different things might be if cats had beaten apes in the evolution of an opposable thumb.

          My cat is smart enough to know he doesn’t have one. His favorite game for some time has been chasing an empty roll of Gorilla Tape (nope, didn’t make that up). Invariably, it falls over after he catches it. It may be my imagination, but he focuses intently on my thumb as I set it back upright and roll it again. He has tried to do it, and seems to understand why he can’t. It also may be my imagination that my opposable thumb is one of the few things he actually respects me for … even without having observed me using it to open the cat food tin.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            One of the staff at the all cats and no cattle ranch loves to be near an outside fire pit burning away, and the rest avoid it like the plague.

            I get the feeling he must think i’m a shaman or something, being able to conjure fire whenever I feel like it. Once it gets going, he jumps on my lap.

            Reply
            1. 3.14e-9

              Either that, or he’s another smarty cat who understands that even with his supernatural intelligence, he can’t start a fire without an opposable thumb. Maybe he considers it your main qualification for running his ranch.

              Reply
            2. Oregoncharles

              We had an elderly black cat who would stretch out on the hearth and roast herself in front of the fireplace. When her fur got too hot to touch, she would move. My wife worried about brain damage, but how would you know?

              she didn’t like when anything stuck out of the fire, though, as too-long pieces sometimes do. Seemed to know where the proper bounds were.

              The chief worry was that she didn’t know where the end of her tail was, and would flop it into the fire. There were scorched patches. Usually we pulled it out before she got burned.

              Reply
          2. 3.14e-9

            Meant to add, that scene is one of my all-time favorites (not very original, I know). And, while it’s understandable that the YouTube video cut at that moment, the point isn’t complete without at least a few frames of the next scene. The transition is a big part of the appeal for me.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Yes, the quick cut from bone in the air to bone in space is stunning and almost metaphysical. I first saw it in a proper theatre when the film first came out. I was a young teenager than, and it created an unshakeable belief in the transformative power of science. I was too young to understand the reverse transformative power of stupidity and greed.
              I sadly agree about the almost perverse way in which youtube “contributors” butcher clips from movies. In many cases, unless you have already seen the referenced film, the true meaning is lost.
              It’s one of my favourite scenes from the cinema too. Part of the value of such a scene is its’ ability to maintain its’ effect on the viewer throughout repeated viewings. I judge most films by whether or not I would watch it a second time. Add a third viewing, or more, and i know that I’m in the presence of either genius or madness. (Many times, I’ll settle for either.)
              Love your “handle.” Pi e minus 9. Two imaginaries and the square of a Prime.

              Reply
              1. 3.14e-9

                Thanks, Ambrit. I also first saw it in a theater as a teenager, on a whim as I was walking home from school one day. I had no idea what it meant. But yes, it stuck, so that when I saw it again years later, the neurons started firing.

                I don’t know at what point it became my all-time favorite film, but it has not been displaced in at least 25 years. I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen it, probably over 30. And the thing is, I see/feel something new each time. I saw it in 70 mm on the 90-foot curved screen at the Cinerama in Seattle in 2010 and got so dizzy during the anti-gravity camera angles that I nearly passed out. I’d never noticed before how skillfully Kubrick was able to convey spatial disorientation.

                Lastly, it was lovely of you to think of my screen name as so clever, and maybe I shouldn’t ruin the image. The truth, though, is that it was my calculation of being one of the 99 percent. Before 3.14, it was 3.17. The number drops as the population rises and at the moment is about 3.09, but continually changing it means getting blocked as a new user until verified. So I left it at 3.14, and since it just happens to be pi to two decimal places (I used to be able to recite it to 30), it seems easier for everyone to address me by a word with meaning instead of the meaningless tiny number that I am.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  I’ll just say that every number, whether ‘real’ or ‘imaginary’ has discrete meaning. As “pi” you can honestly say that you cut through everything and surround everything, simultaneously.
                  I agree, Kubrick was a bloody genius at constructing films. And he had the vision to have Vickers-Armstrong build a full sized spaceship Discovery pseudo gravity centrifuge compartment, the one where Gary Lockwood works out running around the loop. Like so many, he started out as a still photographer. Another still photographer turned film ambiguity is Ken Russell. I think of “The Devils” whenever I’m reminded of how close genius is to madness.

                  Reply
  11. Polar Donkey

    A friend of mine teaches seniors at a high school in north Mississippi, outside Memphis. Yesterday was the first day back at school for the students from Christmas break. The school uses block schedule. At most, a student could take 4 classes. Very few students take 4 classes. Mostly athletes, they get a class credit for sport, and kids making up failed or missed classes. My friend asked each of the 3 classes she taught how many kids have jobs. 80 to 90% did. About half of all her students had full time jobs. Fast food/warehouses. Most seniors only take 2 classes, then get work release. Not only the poor kids working to help support their family, middle class, and even well off kids work. They are saving for college or making car payments etc. These kids are so used to working full-time and spending little time on school, the ones going to college have a hard time transitioning to full-time college student. They can’t/will not give up the money.
    I graduated high school in 1992. Maybe a 1/3 to a half had part-time jobs. One friend was a greek who came to live with his uncle. He worked almost full-time and we joked he was the james brown of our school. It is mind boggling that kids only go for 2 classes. What a wasted opportunity for actual education, and how are we expecting any learning when kids are working full-time jobs.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      I think this might be more of a Mississippi thing than anything else. I graduated relatively recently (2011), in suburban Georgia near Atlanta, and about as many people had jobs as when you were in school, if not less. It might be a Mississippi cultural thing.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        It might also be an artifact of the ‘depth’ of the social support networks available. Poverty comes in many guises. Relative poverty can be ‘spun’ in an almost infinite number of directions. That the kids mentioned feel required to have smartphones, cars, and other material possessions is a wider cultural effect. Poor but virtuous might be but a distraction strategy for the elites, but some forms of self sacrifice do serve useful and often longer term goals. The failure here is in the society, in that it is wasting such potentially valuable and productive lives.
        In the interests of fairness, I admit to having had part time jobs during my school days, but, the Folks at home kept on me to take my education as seriously, or more so. It might have been a part of the Meritocrat Delusion, but it did send me in a more fulfilling direction. In High School, I had to do six classes a day, for an hour each. I often stayed after for extra curricular stuff, like Speech and Debate.
        The question here is; where do the expectations that drive these students decisions come from?
        Daft Punk once sang that “Television Rules the Nation.”
        Now, Apps up with that!

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth Burton

          where do the expectations that drive these students decisions come from?

          Short answer: state and federal “education reforms” that have come to mean the only real learning that matters is learning to fill in the right bubbles on the standardized tests. The results of those tests will determine anything from whether the teachers keep their jobs to whether the school remains open.

          Reply
      2. sleepy

        I’m not sure if it’s a Mississippi thing or not. I’ve taught high school in northern Iowa and the vast majority of kids had jobs.

        And the northern Mississippi referred to in the post is fairly affluent suburban Memphis. I suspect it’s a result of a national homogenized consumerism plus high costs that is the driver, not any particularly “Mississippi culture.”

        Reply
  12. flora

    Re: Microsoft security patches.

    You may need to disable your Anti-Virus (AV) software – or even uninstall it – to get the patches to install. (If you uninstall, be sure to reinstall after patch is applied.) See:

    As Microsoft warned this week, it’s not delivering its January 3 Windows security updates to customers if they’re running third-party antivirus, unless the AV is confirmed to be compatible with it.

    Microsoft’s testing found some antivirus products were producing errors by making unsupported calls into Windows kernel memory, resulting in blue screen of death (BSOD) errors.

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-meltdown-spectre-fix-how-to-check-if-your-av-is-blocking-microsoft-patch/

    So, yes, try to apply the patch. If it fails to install, or if after install it blue-screens your machine, this may be the reason.

    Reply
    1. cocomaan

      Over the past year, I’ve really started to lose track of what needs to be patched and when. There’s so many security vulnerabilities that I feel like we’re about to hit a chilling effect. At what point do consumers stop using computers because they don’t want the tax on time of dealing with security problems?

      Reply
      1. nycTerrierist

        “At what point do consumers stop using computers because they don’t want the tax on time of dealing with security problems?”

        This! especially for any seniors —- life is too short.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I think my Mom’s first e-mail was about 3 years ago, and she’s steadily plowed into the internet, and gets 3 newsprint daily newspapers and a weekly one from here, and books to read too. Gotta keep busy @ 92.

          Reply
      2. Fraibert

        I don’t think people will stop using computers for the reason you outline. The conveniences and familiarity are simply too great. Instead, the computers will simply not be fully updated, with the assorted risks that entails.

        Reply
  13. Craig H.

    The dope on the quake:

    USGS .gov page

    Did Reuters really call the SF fire department and ask about tsunamis? Crikey that is stupid.

    At 2:37 I was sound asleep. At 2:38 I was WIDE awake and thinking [expletive deleted] let’s hope this ain’t the big one. At 2:39 I was back to sleep.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      We live largely away from the fault zone here, in a tiny temblors town, in that the largest one here recorded was a pipsqueak 4.0, which is a joyride in the scheme of things Richter.

      But that said, perhaps the largest earthquake in American Golden State history was only 50 miles away in Lone Pine in the Owens Valley, with the High Sierra separating us, in 1872. The following quote from Wiki is amazing in the range that it was felt…

      “The quake was felt strongly as far away as Sacramento, where citizens were startled out of bed and into the streets. Giant rockslides in what is now Yosemite National Park woke naturalist John Muir, then living in Yosemite Valley, who reportedly ran out of his cabin shouting, “A noble earthquake!” and promptly made a moonlit survey of the fresh talus piles. This earthquake stopped clocks and awakened people in San Diego, California, to the south, Red Bluff, California, to the north, and Elko, Nevada, to the east. The shock was felt over most of California and much of Nevada. Thousands of aftershocks occurred, some severe.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1872_Lone_Pine_earthquake

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A fire department usually does not know if a quake is from a slip-strike fault under the water or not, though it’s possible they know whether they have survived a tsunami or not.

      Reply
  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A baby Echidna is called a puggle.

    What do we call a retired Echidna? Struggle?

    “I am still useful, even if my personality is a bit spiny. I love working in your huge distribution center while living in my RV. Please don’t let me go.”

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Oh come on now. Young Echidnas naturally gravitate towards ‘Hedge Fund’ activities. I’m sure that Dr. Hussman has a few working for him as well.

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          Yes, they can be a difficult subject to grasp.
          I wonder if they could make common cause with the ‘Porcupine Defense League.’ Their motto could be “Stick It To ‘Em!” Though, being burrowers, they might have a penchant for commodities trading. “Get in under the ground floor my puggles!”

          Reply
  15. redrick

    re: Travis Kalanick to sell part of his Uber shares for first time

    Continuous warning signs of a sinking ship… Had to check out a similar Reuters article because of the pay wall but:

    “Kalanick had offered to sell half of his total shares, but because there was a limit on how much SoftBank will buy, he will sell just 29 percent, according to the source. Other investors also did not get to unload as many shares as they had hoped because of such widespread interest to sell.”

    The line is long to get out, even at a 30% discounted valuation! So why is Softbank doing this? There are definitely cheaper ways to approach talent acquisition and financially Uber is hemorrhaging. Their official statement on the purchase cited confidence in Uber’s ability to “reinvent how people and goods are transported around the world.” This plus a quick glance at their subsidiary portfolio might be a hint at an incredibly ambitious but highly speculative vertical integration play? Manufacture chips for mobile (ARM), design/sell the phones (Brightstar, Softbank), control the network (Sprint, Softbank), curate content and provide search (Yahoo), invest in distribution (Alibaba, Uber), and are pushing toward the leading edge of robotics/AI/self driving cars (Boston Dynamics, Uber). Heck, they even have a fully owned PE fund (Fortress) and baseball team to boot (Fukouka Hawks)!

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      Softbank made an investment in Theranos. …if i recall correctly. I wouldn’t call Softbank “smart money”

      Reply
    2. Lee

      Evidently Uber, like Google et al, cannot afford to pay human customer service reps. A friend left her phone in the Uber taxi last night. Uber provides an 800 number but it is a recording that refers all problems back to an app on one’s phone: Catch 22 + “You can’t get there from here.” She finally retrieved her phone by continuously calling it and fortunately the next passenger was an honest neighbor of ours who returned the phone.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We left some dry food out in a bowl for an errant member of the enclave of the cat clan last month by the sliding glass door, and damned if a skunk doesn’t show up for dinner. Watched it for a good 5 minutes from 6 feet away, which is about 4 minutes and 59 seconds later than any time i’ve been so close, but I had my force-field.

        Very cute fellow, and hungry. Ate the entire bowl.

        Reply
  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Don Pesci: New research shows Connecticut signed Bill Of Rights in 1790 The Register Citizen.

    If one adds Connecticut’s ratification vote to that of Vermont, it would appear that all 12 amendments to the Constitution were properly ratified: The votes for ratification of Connecticut and Vermont were the trip wires that affirmed ratification of the 12 amendments to the Bill of Rights. Once appropriately ratified, no amendment may be ungratified. The Civil War teaches us that the ratification votes that bind the disparate states into what Abraham Lincoln thought of as an indissoluble nation cannot be undone. The un-ratification of one amendment would open the door to the un-ratification of any or every amendment to the Bill Of Rights.

    The separatists in the Golden State are probably asking:

    1. Was it just Lincoln himself, one person, who thought the

    a. the ratification votes cannot be undone
    or
    b. the nation’s indissoluble union cannot be undone

    or was it more than just Lincoln, but a widely acceptable fact?

    2. How does the un-ratification of one amendment lead to the un-ratification of any or every one?

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      There was about a 60/40 split on affinity in terms of the Blue & Grey here in the Central Valley during the Civil War. Then, as now, the oddest of ducks politically, California’s red state bastion.

      Reply
  17. user12312312

    Glad to hear NYC is doing well. Currently 4 F with 22mph winds here, in one of the warmer parts of the finger lakes…

    Reply
    1. 3.14e-9

      A little East of you, and maybe south, depending where in the FL you’re located.

      We were on the outer edge of Da Bomb, so we didn’t get the amount of snow that fell on NYC and Boston, but now we’re getting the Arctic blast sucked into its wake. Currently 1 degree where I live, with a wind chill of -19 and gusts up to 30 mph. Tonight’s low expected to be -4. That $700 parka sure would be useful for taking out the garbage.

      Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that presidential candidate plan
    Hey Joe, I said where the donkey show says you’re their man, oh

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      I’m goin’ down to shoot my IT lady
      You know I caught her messin’ ’round with a Russian man
      And that ain’t too cool

      Reply
    1. cyclist

      Does the Met still use the little crimp-on metal disc to prove admission? If so, when leaving, place yours on a convenient place near the entrance where others might pick it up. This is something that was popular in the UK when some museums went from free to paid admission.

      Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      the frustrating thing is that the projected revenue from ticket sales barely makes a dent in the Met’s annual budget. (presumably Met’s gotten upper-level-management-heavy over the decades)

      Robert Hughes is rolling in his grave. (art critic who often ranted at the obscene financial-ization of “high art” and high art’s disconnect from culture)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hughes_(critic)

      Reply
    3. curlydan

      The Art Institute of Chicago is $25 an adult. I thought about taking my kids there on my last 2 visits to the city…nah, not worth it.

      Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    So, those in charge of the levers that use leverage on Krakatoa-east of Jersey, goose the grail up to a very round number before lowering the boom, so as to allow the reign of error to own it, as it’s going on a year now, his to have and hold.

    This is a guy that claimed airplane safety was on account of him, the other day.

    Imagine his reaction to a 11,573 DJIA in the not too distant future?

    Reply
  20. s.n.

    neglected angle on the Wolff book revelations, covered by Phil Weiss:

    A foreign leader — Netanyahu — set Trump’s agenda in Middle East, Michael Wolff book says
    http://mondoweiss.net/2018/01/foreign-netanyahu-jerusalem/

    …With everyone talking about the Russia story again, fed by Michael Wolff’s bombshell new book on the Trump White House, it must be pointed out that the book documents that a foreign leader not Vladimir Putin pushed one of the Trump administration’s most grievous foreign policy moves, the decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the supposed capital of the Jewish people….

    Bannon plunged on with the Trump agenda. “Day one we’re moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all-in. Sheldon” — Adelson, the casino billionaire and far-right Israel defender — “is all-in. We know where we’re heading on this … Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.”…

    Adelson’s influence reflects the fact that according to the Wolff book, he was willing to put more money on the possibility of a Trump presidency than Trump himself. Trump, a shrewd businessman, did not believe that he was going to win, and was reluctant to loan the campaign even $10 million, Wolff says. But Adelson is a fervent ideologue, far wealthier than Trump; and he and his wife spent upwards of $25 million on the Trump campaign and inauguration. So no wonder the embassy decision was announced…

    …No one gives Adelson credit for this influence because such reports would feed the idea that a rightwing militaristic Israel lobby is influencing U.S. policy in the Middle East, a supposed anti-Semitic canard. But that just happens to be true….

    …This is the great divide in U.S. foreign policy. Not over Russia; but over the extent of Israel’s influence. Realists and leftists are opposed to the Israel lobby. And realists are excommunicated by the Republicans, leftists by the Democrats.

    Reply
  21. Jeff N

    re: the 747 – all my life, I never got to fly on one. (I’ve rarely flown internationally, and never to Asia) I was booked on one from Chicago-LA in the late 90s or early 2000s, but I missed the flight (my own fault). :(

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      My first 747 flight was on Pan Am from LA to Auckland in 1981 and the stewardesses were 26, and maybe some are still flying nearing 60?

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        p.s.

        The 747’s of the day couldn’t make it all the way, and would stop in Hawaii, Tahiti or Fiji, and you could break up your flight and stay awhile for a very nominal charge. I never went to Fiji, but stopped elsewhere en route in future trips.

        One time in NZ, I got an AirNZ 2 week go anywhere anytime internal air pass for $249 (only for sale to foreign visitors) and went everywhere there was an airport getting a lay of the land overhead, and the Southern Alps reached out and grabbed me, what mountains!

        The exchange rate that 1st trip was one NZ $ = 93 cents U.S.

        Over the course of going from a cradle to grave socialist mecca to an anything goes capitalist, it dropped as low as 40 cents U.S. equaling a Kiwi $ in the mid 80’s. I remember eating dinner for $3 U.S.

        Another place that intrigued me, but I never made it there, was the island of Nauru, who proudly sided with us in the UN referendum on Jerusalem late last year, one of 8 in the whole world.

        Here’s the skinny on the country, which sounds curiously like us.

        “Nauru boasted the highest per-capita income enjoyed by any sovereign state in the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

        When the phosphate reserves were exhausted, and the island’s environment had been seriously harmed by mining, the trust that had been established to manage the island’s wealth diminished in value. To earn income, Nauru briefly became a tax haven and illegal money laundering centre.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nauru

        Reply
        1. Meher Baba Fan

          Nauru also site of a ‘ off shore processing for legal reasons’ detention centre for refugees and asylum seekers. Highly controversial

          Reply
      2. ambrit

        Hah to the 747! I flew on a Constellation!
        In my day, Tourist Class was a bale of straw in the cargo hold! Yes, Economy Class was strapped to the wings and had to supply its’ own oxygen!

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Woah! You know what happened to the fellow who shared Daedalus maiden flight! Unless you are referring to Stephen Dedalus. Now, such a flight as that would be very interesting, in a long form ruminative sort of way, but I digress…

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Dear MLTPB;
              I grew up??? I must have missed that.
              (Too many possible responses to the M.C.Escher reference to M.C.Escher reference to…)
              [Keep safe from those fires now. Be prepared.]

              Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      Flown on many. The really cool ones had a lounge and bar on the upper deck. Many moons ago I was on a TWA 747 that had that and a very friendly stewardess let me go upstairs where I expected to party down with the jet set (I was a poor student at the time on some $220 open ticket that they offered back then). The lounge was very 70s hip but there was no one up there! I guess that’s why it didn’t work out. Now there are just regular seats up there for the most part though there are probably some commercial aviation people in the commenters who could say more!

      747 today: I was in an upper deck about a year ago flying from Paris to somewhere…maybe LA? Can’t remember. It was business class and just OK.

      It’s a great plane though. Much more interesting than the A380, which is just a very big Airbus unless you’re on one of the Chinese airlines that plan to strap people to the walls (not sure that happened).

      Reply
      1. RMO

        The only times I flew on 747’s were during two family trips to Hawaii. Both were with the glorious airline that was Wardair. The top deck was a spacious lounge, every passenger could have filet Mignon served on Royal Dalton, all the seats were roomy – and it wasn’t expensive either. Oh yeah, you also didn’t get abused and humiliated passing through the security theater on the way to the plane.

        Reply
  22. allan


    Superfund work touted by Trump EPA was completed years ago
    [AP]

    The Environmental Protection Agency is touting cleanups at seven of the nation’s most polluted places as a signature accomplishment in the Trump administration’s effort to reduce the number of Superfund sites, even though records show the physical work was completed before President Donald Trump took office. …

    Records show that construction work at all seven sites hyped by Pruitt’s EPA, such as removing soil or drilling wells to suck out contaminated groundwater, was completed years before Pruitt was confirmed as the agency’s chief in February. Removing sites from the list is a procedural step that occurs after monitoring data show that remaining levels of harmful contaminates meet cleanup targets, which were often set by EPA decades ago. …

    In the meantime, things that Pruitt actually can claim credit for will do damage for years.
    Potemkin populism: come for the tax cuts, stay for the wreckage.

    Reply
  23. Ed

    I’ve noticed for some time that the weather forecasts consistently overhype the chances of bad weather, and also consistently predict lower temperatures than actually happen by about 5 degrees (F). And going straight to the National Weather Service does not help (actually the commercial services sole data source is the NWS).

    In a world where bad weather never occurred, it would be a simple solution to just disregard the weather reports, but in a world where sometimes a bad storm will happen, just not most of the times it is predicted, it gets very tricky. On normal days I’ve gotten used to looking at the weather forecast and mentally raising the temperature, or if worse comes to worse leaving time to walk outside and then return and change my clothes. But though chances are that you won’t be caught in a storm if they say you will be caught in a storm, sometimes you really will be caught in a storm. For not it seems best to keep showing up and work and for baptisms/ weddings/ funerals and to cancel or postpone anything else. And parents of small children when schools are closed usually have no choice but to stay at home with them.

    Reply
    1. Ed Miller

      Never seen that, only statistically reasonable errors due to changes in wind patterns and other factors, and these factors are different in different locals. Forecasting is not perfect. I have lived in Idaho, Minnesota, California, Arizona, Colorado and now Oregon. Is there something about weatherpersons that gets under your skin?

      Edit: In moderation. I can never figure out what I say that irritates the moderators. Is this considered a personal attack? Help please!

      Reply
  24. Fec

    As Trump’s first appointment, Sessions was a nod to the paleocons whom Trump had delighted with America First campaign promises. Regardless, Trump has been forced to accommodate the neocon warmongers.

    Enforcing existing marijuana laws serves Session’s neoconfederate and secessionist leanings by fomenting the rise of federalism and the prospect of civil war.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      As a sanctuary state and a recreational cannabis state, California is nullifying numerous federal laws (as is its sovereign right).

      California libre!

      Reply
      1. Lee

        As for sanctuary state, I am of at least two minds. Part of my family and circle of friends are in construction and competing with low wage workers from elsewhere. Another part of the family raises grapes and makes wine. They benefit from the low wage workers from elsewhere. Now, if the plans of my relatives in construction pan out and they become contractors, they too can benefit from low wage workers from elsewhere and my ambivalence, so far as my family and friends are concerned, will be mitigated. As to the broader effects of illegal immigration, particularly on the working class, I await convincing data either way. If you have some, please provide.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          I’ve worked in a vineyard, pruning, and the guy I worked for now has a Latino crew and is very worried about ICE. So yes, it happened. No more hippie vineyard crews.

          Reply
        2. Jean

          Great, now your relatives can become exploiters and human traffickers of low skilled labor from Central America–if their plans work out–clawing their way to the top of their class by stomping on the face of their fellow Americans below who can’t find affordable housing or earn a livable wage.

          Reply
          1. Lee

            I agree with you. But blood is blood, and my family, myself included, are working stiffs who got a little bit ahead. My wife’s grandfather was a farm worker, my mother was for most of her working life a waitress. I’m doing modestly okay for now on my retirement and wish everyone were in a position to do so.

            I’m listening to a two part series called Our Town on This American Life radio program. I haven’t listened to all of it but I am detecting a pro-immigrant bias. However, they have some interesting data and a lot of anecdotes from locals displaced by Latino immigrant labor. I am right at the point where the Latinos break the union, which, as a former union organizer, sticks in my craw.
            https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/632/our-town-part-one

            Reply
            1. Jean

              “This American Life”, part of the programmed opposition that never names the real opportunists and parasites on our economy. NPR is sponsored by the Pew Charitable Foundation and the Koch Brothers, their major donors and they unabashedly tailor their programming and editorial content to further enrich them.

              Google “What You Aren’t Being Told About NPR” and watch the video for all the details.

              Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        Call it civil disobedience, Jim. CIVIC civil disobedience.

        In fact, jury nullification is the best bet to fend off Federal prosecutions, but wouldn’t help with “civil” asset seizures – no conviction required. Even Oregon’s outlawing civil asset forfeiture (by initiative) doesn’t cover Federal seizures. Any ideas, everybody?

        I actually think asset seizures are the driving force behind Sessions’ initiative, and the main problem. There are millions of dollars in CASH sloshing around out there; a very tempting prize.

        Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Why would rising Federalism necessarily court Civil War? Why would we not try Civil Division and Civil Partition this time?

      Reply
  25. Wukchumni

    Read Trump lawyer’s letter to Michael Wolff and Steve Rubin Washington Post. Wowsers, this will just increase sales.
    ~~~~~~~~~

    Words calculated to catch no one may catch everyone.

    Reply
    1. Brucie A.

      We are watching the political equivalent of the Weinstein board paying off the objects of his abuse. We are watching Fox pay out its tens of millions to O’Reilly’s victims. But we’re watching it in real time, with the secret shared worldwide, and the stakes immeasurably higher.

      Reply
    1. Ed Miller

      I don’t have the property to plant lots of trees, but I do pollinator-friendly plants. Not just at my little suburban lot but more so in parks and other open spaces all over (S&W of Portland), with support from park staff, etc. It’s not just trees because more flowers and other natives are needed for balance. Monarch restoration in Oregon is a battle as their numbers are dropping quickly. I don’t make much of a dent myself but I’m not giving up.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        the native milkweed, needed for the monarchs, is very pretty but prefers fairly wet ground. My attempts to grow it have so far been failures.

        Reply
  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Don’t use just one number (from a link last month…that we should talk about different temperature ranges)

    From ‘Roughly a quarter of the planet is slowly turning into a perpetual desert’ Grist

    But there is a way to avoid this desertlike fate — for the most part. The study projects that two-thirds of affected areas could be salvaged if we limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

    The Paris Agreement calls on the international community to limit warming to under 2 degrees C, but that goal is getting harder and harder to meet. The planet has already warmed by 1 degree C, and several studies indicate we’ll hit the 2-degree mark by the end of the century even if we stop burning fossil fuels immediately.

    1…1.5…2 degrees C….all single numbers.

    Reply
    1. blennylips

      Lots of talk about all kinds of ranges in this latest assessment published in Nature magazine: Greater future global warming inferred from Earth’s recent energy budget
      Behind a paywall, of course, but lots of explainers:

      https://insideclimatenews.org/news/06122017/climate-change-warming-forecast-worst-case-best-models-ipcc-study

      In the range of climate models, those that most successfully simulate the past predict some of the worst-case scenarios for the future, researchers found.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/12/06/the-most-accurate-climate-change-models-predict-the-most-alarming-consequences-study-claims/

      The study, by Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif., examined the high-powered climate change simulations, or “models,” that researchers use to project the future of the planet based on the physical equations that govern the behavior of the atmosphere and oceans.

      I think we are blowing past any 1.5°C hoped for target. I understand that parts of the arctic are already several times that above preindustrial levels.

      Reply
  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Tax Law Hits Manhattan Home Sales Bloomberg

    Should be hearing from SF and coastal Southern California soon.

    In Santa Barbara, it may be taking another hit due to the big fire.

    Reply
  28. Oregoncharles

    Der Spiegel on “Waning US”, actual title: “Time for Germany to Learn to Lead”
    The arrogance is breathtaking, especially considering the recent results in the southern tier of the EU. This is going to get them in trouble; Europeans are far more aware of history, especially recent history, than Americans.

    And the irony is thick, too:
    “5 ways Germany’s coalition talks could come unstuck,” just 5 links down.

    Germany doesn’t even have a viable government.

    Reply
  29. Oregoncharles

    ” I am at a loss to understand what the demon weed hysteria is about.”
    Of course. But I think there’s an answer: millions, if not billions, of dollars in CASH sloshing around in the pot shops. Remember asset forfeiture? They don’t have to actually prosecute anybody, which might be difficult in the legalization states (a jury is going to convict when they know it’s legal in their state?). Just bust in and steal the money and the dope. The DEA troops must be salivating.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      That’s another possibility, but they’d have to share with local and state law enforcement, I think. And since the GOP’s plan is to gut the government, I’m still more inclined to see it as a potential means of making Big Pharma happy.

      Reply
  30. Oregoncharles

    “Stumbled across this nugget. Apparently the House should have 1 rep for every 50k people but doesn’t because CT made a clerical error in 1790 (discovered in 2011) ​and now just needs action from the archivist of the US or a senator from CT. I wonder if a little publicity might help.”

    Mind-boggling. Also hilarious. So hilarious that I wonder whether the document is genuine. Not reported to Congress at the time, and then filed under “1780”? Is that plausible? Surely the then-members of the Connecticut leg. would notice that their vote was misrepresented?

    Reply
  31. D

    For fellow luddites, this book looks both very interesting, and validating, particularly in light of the current Intel ChipMeltdown™ and Spectre™ issues (many thanks to BLCKDGRD):

    Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power by Byung-Chul Han – review An examination of the internet age suggests that we should cultivate the heresies of secrets and silence

    During a commercial break in the 1984 Super Bowl, Apple broadcast an ad directed by Ridley Scott. Glum, grey workers sat in a vast grey hall listening to Big Brother’s declamations on a huge screen. Then a maverick athlete-cum-Steve-Jobs-lackey hurled a sledgehammer at the screen, shattering it and bathing workers in healing light. “On January 24th,” the voiceover announced, “Apple Computer will introduce the Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like [Orwell’s] Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

    The ad’s idea, writes Korean-born German philosopher Byung-Chul Han, was that the Apple Mac would liberate downtrodden masses from the totalitarian surveillance state. And indeed, the subsequent rise of Apple, the internet, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Google Glass means that today we live in nothing like the nightmare Orwell imagined. After all, Big Brother needed electroshock, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, drugs and hectoring propaganda broadcasts to keep power, while his Ministry of Plenty ensured that consumer goods were lacking to make sure subjects were in an artificial state of need.

    The new surveillance society that has arisen since 1984, argues Han, works differently yet is more elegantly totalitarian and oppressive than anything described by Orwell or Jeremy Bentham. “Confession obtained by force has been replaced by voluntary disclosure,” he writes. “Smartphones have been substituted for torture chambers.” Well, not quite. Torture chambers still exist, it’s just that we in the neoliberal west have outsourced them (thanks, rendition flights) so that that obscenity called polite society can pretend they don’t exist.

    ….

    No matter. How might we resist psychopolitics? In this respect, Han cuts an intriguing figure. He rarely makes public appearances or gives interviews (and when he does he requires journalists turn off their recorders ), his Facebook page seems to have been set up by Spanish admirers, and only recently did he set up an email address which he scarcely uses. He isn’t ungooglable nor yet off the grid, but rather professor at Berlin’s University of the Arts and has written 16 mostly lovely, slender volumes of elegant cultural critique (I particularly recommend The Burnout Society, The Scent of Time, Saving Beauty and The Expulsion of the Other – all available in English) and is often heralded, along with Markus Gabriel and Richard David Precht, as a wunderkind of a newly resurgent and unprecedentedly readable German philosophy.

    For all that, and I mean this as a compliment, Byung-Chul Han is an idiot. He writes: “Thoroughgoing digital networking and communication have massively amplified the compulsion to conform. The attendant violence of consensus is suppressing idiotisms.”

    Indeed, the book’s last chapter is called “Idiotism”, and traces philosophy’s rich history of counter-cultural idiocy. Socrates knew only one thing, namely that he knew nothing. Descartes doubted everything in his “I think therefore I am”. Han seeks to reclaim this idiotic tradition. In an age of compulsory self-expression, he cultivates the twin heresies of secrets and silence.

    ….

    Glad I’ve always felt uncomfortable about my own computer – let alone online actions – and have never bought, applied for (with one State forced exception), or filed anything online, and have never entered any Social Security numbers, etcetera on my computer, or in the very, very few emails (99.999% being a work requirement) I’ve sent over the years.

    Not that this will protect me from other entities having done so, uuughhh, as my personal data has now been hacked at least twice as it sat on others “clouds” with nothing I could do to prevent it. I can’t help wondering at the utter lack of technology regulation over the years by our apparently worthless politicians. One regulation which should have been in place decades ago would have been curtailing companies from unleashing untested software and computers and then relying on (with no compensation even) their customer victims to notify them of errors, while charging outrageous Tech Support™ fees to resolve issues created by the company itself. Then again, some of these issues are surely an NSA, et al feature, and not a bug.

    Reply
  32. Phacops

    Re: Antidote of the day.

    Those Mangrove Crabs are truly a significant driver of healthy estuaries and a fundamental key to fisheries.

    Aside from that, spotting them scuttling about the mangroves on a kayaking trip through tight mangrove tunnels in Florida is always a pleasure. Heck, just getting out into the bays, estuaries, and islands of Florida, especially on the Gulf Coast, is one of life’s pleasures. A favorite trip is Pine Island to Sanibel via Cayo Costa and Captiva. Along the way there are Ospreys, mangrove tunnels and shallow bays with upside-down jellyfish.

    Quite the andidote too for the sub-zero temperatures and lake-effect snow here in Michigan.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Oh yes. I joined in a mini-vacation to Sanibel many years ago. The main road was unpaved and was a real washboard. No condos or hotels, just pine trees and beaches. On the bay side, yes, mangroves. The shells!
      Later, as a young family, we visited Sanibel with the International Scout pulling the old Airstream. What an almost depressing difference! Buildings everywhere, and crooks and sharpies lurking in every coffeehouse and restaurant. We made the mistake of going on a ‘promotional tour’ of some timeshare condos for the “free” goodies dangled before our somewhat impoverished eyes. That was an education in the rancid underbelly of capitalism, I’ll tell you.

      Reply
  33. Bill

    IMO, the “demon weed hysteria” is about drug companies and cannabis dispensaries in certain states wanting to corner the market on products made from cannabis. If it is legal, they can’t charge ridiculous prices. In Vermont:

    When retail cannabis sales for general adult use start in bordering Massachusetts and nearby Maine — likely in mid-2018 — Vermont’s medical marijuana patients will have more options with fewer regulations. If Vermont follows suit with legal retail shops soon thereafter, competition will only increase.

    Lynn warily watches trends in states that allow recreational use.

    “In Colorado, the medical market is getting smaller every year,” he said. “In California, there’s been a 40 percent decrease.”

    Lynn, a former professional photographer who started dispensaries in Burlington and Brattleboro with loans he is still paying off, argued that existing operations have earned the right to hold some of Vermont’s first retail store licenses if and when the state legalizes recreational marijuana.

    https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/would-legal-pot-make-or-break-medical-dispensaries/Content?oid=6353254

    There is another company seeking to manufacture cannabis derivatives that is openly talking about making big profits because of their “patented process”.
    https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/a-vermont-design-firm-updates-cannabis-marketing/Content?oid=10437718
    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294984

    And, suddenly, cannabis “in the system” is responsible for fatal crashes. Blood results were re-evaluated after cannabis legalization push in Vermont:
    https://www.timesargus.com/articles/crash-that-killed-teens-reclassified/
    https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/two-notorious-crashes-fuel-marijuana-legalization-debate/Content?oid=10836642

    Reply

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